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March 22nd, 2012

Higher profits than 2010” was the cover story article in Trinidad Express Business Magazine

 

Trinidad Express Business Magazine, Wednesday 21st March, 2012, written by Business Reporter Asha Javeed

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The Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) is shedding some weight to improve its efficiency.

Four vice presidents: Ruben McSween-vice president of Customer Service Centre Network, Gary Pierre-vice president of Corporate Support Services, Emily Chee Wah-chief risk officer and Richard Shepherd-vice president of Electronic Services, were recently cut from the UTC’s top management.

The company’s existing portfolios were also revamped. What exists now is a leaner structure with eight vice presidents who report to executive director Eutrice Carrington. That’s just one of the measures the 29-year-old financial institution embarked upon in its bid to re-position itself on a more sustainable path. "There were a lot of overlapping functions and duplications," said Carrington during an interview with the Business Express at her 10th floor UTC offices in Port of Spain last Friday.

After one year at the helm of an organisation which boasts of 500,000 customers, Carrington’s putting her stamp on the institution. "It’s been an interesting year. The team, the regulators and the critical stakeholders have been very supportive," she said. And she’s not daunted by reaching the retirement age of 60 this month. She has a contract to stay on at the UTC.

She told the Business Express that precedents were set before her time to enable her to do so but more importantly, having just assumed the top position at the UTC, it would allow for a continuity and stability in the organisation. "Sixty," she laughed, "is the new 40!" Carrington’s goal is to ensure that on her watch, the UTC returns to its "glory days".

She’s aware that she’s tasked with the job when interest rates are at an all-time low, interest in the bond markets is low and she’s "not seeing" economic recovery in the local economy yet. To achieve her own objective, she had to embark on the restructuring. Some 26 jobs were shed as a result of the exercise.

Carrington said the exit of the vice presidents from the organisation was "not sprung on them by surprise". "They were well prepared for departure," she said. The board, she said, approved redundancy packages and Carrington herself wrote excellent references for them.

She explained that when the new structure was approved, all vice presidents could have applied for position and were interviewed by a panel which included members of the board. "We took a lot of effort to make the landing as soft as possible," she said. She said that the strategic plan was approved by the Amoy Chang Fong-chaired board in May 2011.

"Having assessed the internal and external environment and using a strategic planning model which was homegrown, we came up with a model to strengthen competitive stability," she said. For instance, she said that the UTC has always had to outsource its legal and audit work. The new structure, she said, allows for an in-house counsel and an internal auditor.

The plan is twofold: a three-year initiative titled "Action Horizon" and a one-year initiative titled "Impact Horizon". By 2015, Carrington expects to see results. "There are charters for all VPs. The reporting lines are clearly defined to hold VPs accountable, not excluding myself. This is more transparent in terms of accountability," she said. Having addressed critical issues such as financial restructuring of UTC’s portfolios, a need to improve efficiency and governance, and a need to re-focus on the customer, she believes the company can meet future challenges.

She said there are two committees now- an executive management committee (to look at strategic issues) and a management risk committee (for an enterprise view of risk).  After posting profits in 2010, albeit a 41 per cent dip from its past performance, Carrington said that the 2011 results marked a changing trend.

The annual general meeting, which is scheduled for May 7, will show better profits than 2010. "There’s been an improved profit position, an improved fund size and an improved fund performance," said Carrington. Four funds yielded positive rates of return. She attributed the UTC’s steady performance to the domestic stock market and the fixed income investment. She said the company will endeavour to maintain its "very conservative position to protect investor funds". To this end, Carrington prefers to "live with re-investment risk" which will allow the company to preserve capital.

With the global economy now recovering from the global financial crisis which was an experience "too recent to ignore", Carrington observed that pursuing higher rates would only have led to fund erosion.

"I am content to live with low income and restructure to live with low interest rates and maintain capital," she said.

New management structure Eutrice Carrington – Executive Director Kriss Marcus – VP, Investment Management Services Gayle Daniel-Worrell – VP, Marketing Communications and Distribution Channels Marilyn Clarke-Andrews – Chief Financial Officer Ulrich Warner – VP, Administration and Corporate Support Services Michelle Persad – Group Treasurer Amoy Van Lowe – Officer in Charge of Financial Advisory and Wealth Management Derrick Redman – VP, Corporate Affairs Pamela Williams – VP, Office of Strategy Management.